by Mary Kathryn Volpone
It was an incredible day of graces and blessings for all who attended the ordination of Br. Ron McBride, MIC, to the transitional diaconate. The Most Rev. Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, D.C., and close friend of the Marian family, presided at the special occasion on Saturday, May 5, in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
“I could sense the joy — the Holy Spirit filling the room. It was uplifting!” said Michelle Hennessy, a member of the Divine Mercy Ministry at Our Lady of Peace Military Catholic Community at Fort George G. Meade, Md. This was the first ordination she had attended.
Annamaria Colantuono, a seminarian benefactor, said that to her the diaconate is a big commitment. “You can’t turn back. You have to go forward towards the priesthood.” Annamaria was especially impressed when Br. Ron lay prostrate before the Bishop. “I could sense a deep humility and servitude. It was very powerful.”
Brandon Williams is discerning a vocation to the priesthood. He was looking forward to coming. “I have read about ordination ceremonies in books, but today it came to life for me. It made me fall in love with the vocation.”
Brother Ron’s siblings Kathleen McBride from Texas and Michael McBride from New York travelled to Washington, D.C. to be witnesses for their older brother.
“We were very close when we were younger, then we went in different directions. However, I got to see the ordeals Ron went through in life,” said Michael. “I think he’s very courageous to be starting religious life at his age. I never expected him to pursue the priesthood. It’s profound. He would have been safe in the brotherhood, but when you are a deacon, you go out in service — you visit the sick, the dying, officiate at funerals. It’s not for the ‘weekend warrior.'”
Deacon Ron was one of two men ordained during the Mass. Joining him was a Carmelite, Br. Edgar E. Lopez, O.Carm.
In his homily, Bishop Holley stated that the diaconate means a life of service. He gave the two men advice on how to faithfully serve Christ and His people. “You will exercise your ministry committed to the celibate state: know that celibacy is both a sign of pastoral charity and an inspiration to it, as well as a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. Compelled by the sincere love of Christ the Lord and living this state with total dedication, you will cling to Christ more easily with an undivided heart: You will free yourselves more completely for the service of God and man, and minister more effectively in the work of spiritual rebirth.”
The diaconate has a long history in the Church, going back to Apostolic times. A deacon (from the Greek diakonos, meaning minister or servant) can proclaim the Gospel during Mass, give blessings, and can preach and teach. Deacons also serve as ministers of sacraments. As clerics, deacons are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours.
At the end of the day, Deacon Ron spoke of the lead-up to the ordination. “Everything went by so fast, that is, until the ceremony. Then it slowed down.” He paused, and then reflected: “I kept asking myself ‘If this is so good, then why is it happening to me?'” Deacon Ron was filled with questions of his worthiness of this vocation, of all the blessings and graces God bestowed upon him, so he jokingly said, “It’s as if it’s a big accident!”
Many people may recognize Deacon Ron from the Divine Mercy Gift Shop at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. A Marian brother for seven years (perpetually professed since August 2009), Deacon Ron’s vocation has been nontraditional. He is the oldest of the Marians’ seminarians. “God has shown me in different ways to stop doubting and to trust completely in Him. Now that I’ve received that, I have stopped doubting. I couldn’t go back. I don’t want to go back,” Deacon Ron said. “I felt an outpouring of the Holy Spirit when Bishop Holley laid his hands upon me. It was a profound peace, one that I have never felt before. Bishop Holley was a conduit for the Holy Spirit.”
Deacon Ron often reflects on where God is leading him especially when he’s tired from studying. “I have begun to reflect how I am different now that I’m a deacon. I often pray Blessed John Paul II’s prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In it there is a line that reads ‘Correct all my thoughts and actions …’ and then I add my own words. Years ago my constant prayer to our Lord was ‘Change me, Lord; please, change me’ and He has been changing me.”
“I remember becoming emotional at the ordinations of Fr. Bob Vennetti, Fr. Ken Dos Santos, Fr. Jim McCormack, and other fellow Marians,” Deacon Ron says. “Watching them being ordained made me begin to think that I wanted to be more than a brother. I told myself that I need to be the most I can be for our Lord, for the people, and for the Church. For the first time in my life, I realized that I really want to help people. I had never felt this way before. Not that I would hurt them, but God has put into my heart a genuine desire to want to change my ways. So I started taking some theology courses and felt like I could handle the studies for the priesthood. I talked with my spiritual director, then the Provincial Superior, and he permitted me to move forward to pursue the priesthood.”
Brother Ron continues, “My faith came through my grandmother. I loved her. I went to 6:30 a.m. Mass with her. She wasn’t perfect, but she had a deep faith. She was widowed with two babies early on in her marriage. When I was young, I spent my summer vacations and my weekends with her. She never saw me watching her praying. I think she was doing penance for the family. She would kneel at her bedside with her back to the door, line up her holy cards on the bed, and pray the Rosary. It made a big impression on me.”
Deacon Ron will be serving his diaconate assignment at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Darien, Ill., one of the Marian’s parishes. He hopes to be ordained to the priesthood later this year.